Sustainable Direction has had an article published in the September 2017 edition of Cotswold Life’s Business & Professional magazine.  In it, we describe our work on the Island of Alderney, and consider the lessons that small island has for us on our larger island of the UK.

Moving in a Sustainable Direction: Lessons from a Small Island for a Larger One

Nowhere is self-sufficiency closer to the front of the mind than on an island. Out of necessity, people concentrate efforts better on how energy can be generated locally, how resources can be used optimally, and how waste can be reduced and reused as far as possible. This way of thinking – so natural when you’re surrounded by stormy waves – is known to the rest of us as ‘sustainability’, and it’s what Gloucestershire-based consultancy Sustainable Direction Ltd has set out to help all its clients do since the day it was started.

In a major project, Sustainable Direction is working with Alderney Electricity Limited (AEL) – energy supplier and distributer for Alderney, one of the Channel Islands – to replace its entire electricity generation system, with the main goal being cost reduction. The project will introduce more efficient generation equipment and open up opportunities for future renewable energy and district heating. The improvements will provide better value for customers, improved energy security, and a more sustainable and prosperous economy for Alderney.  As the sole energy supplier on the island, AEL takes seriously its role in keeping costs down to encourage economic growth.

With this key goal set, the next step in the project was to identify the best system solution to deliver it. When it comes to energy, no one size fits all for businesses and communities.  Sustainable Direction considered a range of renewable technology options with a specific focus on the unique requirements and constraints of the island environment.  An important finding was that bio-diesel or even regular diesel still has an important part to play in the island’s energy future, alongside renewables.  Unlike in a medium-scale energy project on the mainland, there is no bigger grid to fall back on when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, and managing that risk is vital to the security of supply.

At the core of the project is the replacement of the current aging diesel generators with reliable, efficient engines capable of using bio-fuels.  Planned future phases of the project, for 2018, include the installation of solar PV panels to manage demand peaks, battery storage to provide an uninterruptable power supply for the island, and recovery of the waste heat from the engines. This could be used in a number of ways, including providing low-cost heat for public and community buildings such as the school, hospital and new swimming pool.

On an island, where the economy is fragile and transport to the mainland is limited and expensive, thinking sustainably is natural.  But what if an ‘island’ didn’t have to be surrounded by the sea? The same logic of self-sufficiency could easily be applied to rural communities, factories and industrial estates, even towns and cities.  Each of these will have its own unique set of resources, needs and constraints, and so each will have its own ideal energy solution.  All would benefit from low-cost, secure energy supplies. Sustainable Direction is doing just this with several manufacturing sites and a landed estate of 2,500 acres with the potential to grow its own biomass.

Sustainable Direction believes islands like Alderney have a lesson for every business and community.  To find out how they can help you, visit their website at or call them on + 44 (0) 1452 382218.


See the original article in Cotswold life [DKB url=”″ text=”here” color=”green”]